Scott Dixon Takes Fourth Indianapolis 500 Pole Position, Will Power Makes Great Escape on Last Row

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(Photo Credit: Joe Skibinski / Courtesy of IndyCar)

Reigning NTT IndyCar Series Champion Scott Dixon took the pole position for the 2021 Indianapolis 500 with a four-lap average of 231.685 mph executed with surgical precision. Dixon’s fourth pole position for the event comes at the expense of Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta, who got beat by three one hundredths of a mile per hour and will start second. On the last row of the grid, Will Power and Team Penske avoided disaster and qualified for “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing”.

The day began with last row qualifying, and Dreyer and Reinbold Racing‘s Sage Karam was the first of five drivers to make an attempt on the hot, slick track. Karam set the bar with a four-lap average of 229.156 mph that was the best all session.

Next up was Power, who ran his car on the ragged edge, his right rear tyre making serious contact with the wall in turn two on his fourth lap. His average speed was slower than Karam at 228.876 mph, putting knots in many a stomach in the Penske camp.

After Power was Simona De Silvestro of Paretta Autosport, the female-forward team with a technical partnership with Penske. She set an average of 228.353 mph, once again slower than the car before her, putting her on the hot seat at risk of getting bumped.

Charlie Kimball of A.J. Foyt Enterprises was the penultimate driver to make his first run, and much to the relief of De Silvestro and team, he was also slower. To complete the trend, RC Enerson and Top Gun Racing were the slowest and last team to make their run, putting Karam, Power, and De Silvestro provisionally into the show after the first runs.

Unlike in previous years, teams were allowed to make adjustments and run multiple times if needed. Enerson and Kimball waited all the way until fifteen minutes were left in the ninety minute session to make their second attempts with Enerson out first. A 227 mph first lap was indicative of the next three, as Enerson failed to make the top three spots on that run with an average of 226.813 mph. Kimball was next with six minutes left, and while his four laps were incredibly consistent, he just didn’t have the speed in his car to make it into “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” with an average of 227.584 mph.

As heartbreak set in for Kimball and Enerson, Karam, Power and De Silvestro all took sighs of relief now knowing that they are in the race next Sunday, starting thirty-first, thirty-second and thirty-third respectively.

Immediately after was the one-shot Fast Nine qualifying to set the front three rows of the grid. Drivers went in reverse order from their speeds after yesterday, meaning that Marcus Ericsson was the first to hit the track and set a solid average speed of 230.318 mph. It would only be good enough for ninth, but even then this is his best starting position at the Indy 500.

Ryan Hunter-Reay was the next driver to qualify, setting an average of 230.499 mph that was enough to beat Ericsson, but signifigant drop off across the four laps kept him down the field. He will start the race seventh.

Alex Palou hit the track next, after the team put over fifteen hours of work into the racecar following the Spaniard’s massive collision in turn two during qualifying yesterday. Palou gave his team boxes donuts this morning for their hard work, and put his car provisionally fastest with an average of 230.616 mph. It wouldn’t quite hold at the top, but would be enough for sixth place.

Fastest in this morning’s fast nine practice session, Meyer Shank Racing‘s Helio Castroneves took to the track in hopes of grabbing his fourth Indy 500 pole, but would not make it a reality. His average of 230.355 mph was enough for third fastest at the time, but eventually eighth on the grid.

Rinus Veekay was next, the first of two Chevrolets in the fast nine and he put together a heart-stopping performance as only he could. His first lap was the first of the day over 232 mph, and was incredibly consistent. On the last lap in turn one, Veekay had a massive wiggle and almost lost control, but he kept his foot in the gas the entire way and salvaged the lap for an average of 231.511 mph that rocketed him to provisional pole by almost a full mile per hour.

Veekay’s boss at Ed Carpenter Racing, Ed Carpenter, followed right after and followed suit with his own 232 mph first lap, but had slightly more drop off across his four laps for an average of 231.504 mph that put him second provisionally and will see him start fourth.

Into the three fastest drivers, Tony Kanaan hit the track, but was unable to match the ECR drivers in hitting 232 mph on the first lap, throwing a pole position out the window, but he was able to put together an average of 231.032 mph which put him third provisionally, and will see the 2013 Indy 500 winner start fifth.

Herta was the penultimate driver to go and electrified the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with his incredibly consistent run of 231.655 mph, enough to finally steal provisional pole from Veekay. But he wouldn’t be able to celebrate for long, as the “Iceman” saved the best for last to steal the pole. His first lap of 232.7 mph was the fastest lap seen all session, and was consistent enough to beat Herta and take that fourth Indy 500 pole.

With the grid now set, teams have two more practice sessions before the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500, which will take place next Sunday 30 May at 1200 EST / 1700 BST.

2021 Indianapolis 500 Qualifying Day Two Results

19Scott DixonNZLChip Ganassi Racing231.685
226Colton HertaUSAAndretti Autosport231.655
321Rinus VeeKayNEDEd Carpenter Racing231.511
420Ed CarpenterUSAEd Carpenter Racing231.504
548Tony KanaanBRAChip Ganassi Racing231.032
610Alex PalouESPChip Ganassi Racing230.616
728Ryan Hunter-ReayUSAAndretti Autosport230.499
86Helio CastronevesBRAMeyer Shank Racing230.355
98Marcus EricssonSWEChip Ganassi Racing230.318
1027Alexander RossiUSAAndretti Autosport231.046
1118Ed JonesUAEDale Coyne Racing w/ Vasser Sullivan231.044
125Pato O’WardMEXArrow McLaren SP230.864
1351Pietro FittipaldiBRADale Coyne Racing w/ Rick Ware Racing230.846
147Felix RosenqvistSWEArrow McLaren SP230.744
1530Takuma SatoJPNRahal Letterman Lanigan Racing230.708
1629James HinchcliffeCANAndretti Steinbrenner Autosport230.563
173Scott McLaughlinNZLTeam Penske230.557
1815Graham RahalUSARahal Letterman Lanigan Racing230.521
1947Conor DalyUSAEd Carpenter Racing230.427
2060Jack HarveyGBRMeyer Shank Racing230.191
212Josef NewgardenUSATeam Penske230.071
221JR HildebrandUSAA.J. Foyt Enterprises229.98
2345Santino FerrucciUSARahal Letterman Lanigan Racing229.949
2486Juan Pablo MontoyaCOLArrow McLaren SP229.891
2598Marco AndrettiUSAAndretti Herta-Haupert w/Marco & Curb-Agajanian229.872
2622Simon PagenaudFRATeam Penske229.778
2714Sebastien BourdaisFRAA.J. Foyt Enterprises229.744
2825Stefan WilsonGBRAndretti Autosport229.714
2959Max ChiltonGBRCarlin229.417
304Dalton KellettCANA.J. Foyt Enterprises228.323
3124Sage KaramUSADreyer & Reinbold229.156
3212Will PowerAUSTeam Penske228.876
3316Simona De SilvestroSUIParetta Autosport228.353
(R) = Rookie, Positions 10-30 were set on Saturday
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Lifelong sports junkie, currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Hofstra University. Lead writer for Indycar at The Checkered Flag.
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